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Saturday, March 24, 2007

HRC Redux

A couple days ago I commented on the Blogger v HRC catfight.

Commenter Tim adds:

being in DC this weekend I paged through the blade on the metro. Its hardly a "fair and balanced" (whatever that means) article as it conveniently doesn't address one key point - that the HRC is an organization that rated poorly among charities for its use of its resources. I used to give enough to qualify for "federal club" membership until they decided to purchase the building in DC (one that I'll not be visiting this weekend). I don't believe giving to HRC is an effective use of anyone's money because of partisanship, lack of any real leadership, and boondoggles like the building.

I have never been a federal club member of HRC. I have given them $50 or $100 from time to time, and have never attended one of their dinners. I'm not about to pay $175.00 for a political dinner if there aren't substantive political speakers.

Queerty covers HRC's response to Sullivan on the charity point. The Blade blog defends HRC on the building issue.

Charity navigator gives HRC a poor score.

If Charity navigator is correct on this point, this is a problem.

Opt-out: We have determined that this charity has a privacy policy which requires you to tell the charity to remove your name and contact information from mailing lists it sells, trades or shares. Opt-out terms and conditions vary from one charity to the next, but all require the donor to initiate the act.

Gay organizations used to be fairly protective of the privacy of their members and donors.

The Where most needed blog critiques the Charity Navigator report.

That was followed up with criticism of salaries "that would make corporate America blush." The salary claim is quite true but not in the way that's implied: no corporate CEO of a $33 million advocacy outfit would be caught dead earning $247,077 in salary and $32,100 in benefits earned by Cheryl Jacques of HRC. For comparison, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (EIN 52-1243457 Form 990) pulled down $633,000 in salary and $258,000 in benefits in the most recent year available (and four other officers are listed with salaries ranging from $321,000 to $390,000). Grover Norquist makes $167,000 a year for his half-time job at Americans for Tax Reform (EIN 52-1403587 Form 990), which is roughly a tenth the size of HRC.

And then things degenerated. A follow-up post (Judging HRC) called attention to a Charity Navigator rating that gave HRC zero stars for efficiency. Trouble is, Charity Navigator doesn't rate 501(c)(4) lobbying organizations. You won't find the NRA on Charity Navigator. What you find instead is this:

We don't evaluate National Rifle Association.
Why not? We don't evaluate 501(c)(4) organizations because they are allowed to spend a substantial portion of their revenue on lobbying our government and not every donation to them is tax-deductible.

So what Charity Navigator lists (and the subject of its damning rating) is the HRC Foundation, which only accounts for about 20% of the organization's overall spending. If you were to combine the 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), as we have done on the right (click to open), HRC would earn two stars on fundraising efficiency. Not as good as the NRA, but darn good for an organization advancing an unpopular cause. And it's all just pointless abuse: people don't decide whether to support an advocacy organization on the basis of its financial ratios.

Bilerico discusses HRC's poor record with Charity Navigator. A commenter adds:

I have long suspected that HRC is an inefficient org --- however, there are two problems when one complains: (1) insiders accuse you of "eating your children" (i.e. attacking your friends and allies) and "pissing on the trees" (i.e. encouraging political turf wars) instead of "focusing on the real enemy," and (2) as bad as HRC is, it is the best organization of its type that the nationwide GLBT population segment has produced to date --- or at least, in recent decades.

I have problems when organizations that claim to represent the GLBT community, expect that members of the community just shut up, and not speak up for ourselves.


Tim said...

re: federal club membership

At least in MN - it means buying into a clique social club. It also exposes you to how much money is really wasted.

re: the building issue

The editorials point was it builds "equity" - equity is a number in a computer. It means nothing unless you want to do something to the property -such as sell it. HRC went to great expense to aquire that property. More expense than just renting. The ROI just isn't there.